For those of us writing a memoir or who want to do so, sometimes we get stymied. Where do we start? What do we focus on? What happened in our life that really affected us?
Of course, we may have a specific area of our life we want to focus on. But our memories can play tricks on us. Our memories can “hide” a wealth of information about our past, the people in it and our emotions during those times – even if we think we know how we felt.
So, use pictures to trigger your memory and its whole enchilada. I don’t mean just old family and friend photos. But buildings – your school, the house you grew up in, streets, transit (cars and public), old new-story photos, old ad, even cemeteries.
And even the above which may not be your family photo, may not be a streetscape you are familiar with. You are thinking of the time and what is actually in the picture and transferring it (in your mind) to your story.
As some of you know, I teach various memoir writing workshops and courses at Toronto Public Library branches. And as the above hints at, the next one, on April 16, is called Using Your Pictures to Create Your Memoir. Most of my memoir writing workshops and courses have something about pictures, particularly those old family and friend photos. An interesting thing I keep discovering is that even if the picture is of my family or friends or me or the house I grew up in – it will always trigger some memory (not connected to me) in some of the participants.
“Oh, the picture of your dad reminded me of my dad.”
“The picture of your house reminded me of the house I grew up in.”
“That picture of your friends reminded me of something that happened with my sister/some of my friends.”
The pictures take on a generic form. And that can happen with transit and streetscapes. For example, a picture of a streetcar can bring up memories of you riding in a streetcar in the past, lead to something (good or bad) that happened to you while riding a streetcar. Who were you with? What was your relationship to them? And taking it beyond the streetcar ride, what else happened to you and them, especially if a sibling, parent, or close friend? How did you feel towards them? Does it bring up emotions – sad, happy, angry, etc.? And this can lead to more stories with them and maybe with the streetcars. Maybe your dad drove a streetcar or a bus. What were his stories about that?
You can see where a simple picture can lead you in your memoir writing.
Here are the details of my workshop. If you are in the Greater Toronto Area and are interested in taking it, there is still time to register. And it is free. Yes, I get paid by the library for teaching these workshops.
Using Pictures to Create Your Memoir
Tue Apr 16, 2019
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
S. Walter Stewart Library
In this memoir-writing workshop, author and editor Sharon A. Crawford shows how old photos, news stories, ads, streetscapes, and pictures etched in your mind can help create your memoir. Includes how to do picture research and research kick-started by pictures. Through discussion and writing exercises with feedback, you will get a start on your memoir. To register or for more information, please call 416-396-3975.
Meantime, look, really look, at the photo at the top of the post. And see where it leads you in your life.
And the picture below my signature.